Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland's rate of immigrant arrivals is lowest in UK

By Helen William

Northern Ireland had the lowest immigration rate in the UK in the year up to the end of June 2012, new statistics have revealed.

The province had a net migration growth of around 400, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

London was the top choice for international migrants arriving in the UK, recording a net international migration of 69,000 – the highest of all regions.

Northern Ireland had the lowest net migration growth of just 442 from July 2011 to June 2012, although the year before had marked a fall of 696.

It suggests a significant shift in migration patterns here – in 2006-07, there was a net influx of more than 9,000.

But numbers took a sharp dip after that – the impact of the global banking crisis on Northern Ireland and a rise in unemployment appear to have reduced its appeal to migrant workers.

Meanwhile, the number of babies born in the UK is at its highest in four decades, contributing to the fastest population growth in Europe.

There was a rise in population of 419,000 in the year up to the end of June 2012, with the total living in the UK at 63.7 million, according to the ONS. This made it the third largest EU nation, behind France and Germany.

A total of 813,200 births were recorded between June 2011 and June 2012 giving the UK its biggest baby boom since 1972. The rise has been attributed to larger numbers of women in their 20s and 30s becoming mothers, along with an increase in the number of migrant families.

The number of non-UK born mothers was recorded at 25.9%, in contrast to the position 10 years ago when only one in six new mothers had been born overseas.

There are fears that this could put added pressure on hospitals.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said another 5,000 midwives are needed in England to provide services for new mothers and their children.

The number of people aged 90 and over living in the UK has passed half-a-million for the first time, the ONS statistics showed.

As of mid-2012, there were 513,400 people who had reached that milestone – an increase of 32% from 2002, when there were 388,200 people who had reached their 90th birthday.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, said: "Our society is currently undergoing a demographic revolution as more people enjoy a life expectancy denied to previous generations."

FACTFILE

The estimated populations of the four countries of the UK in mid-2012 are 53.5 million people in England, 5.3 million in Scotland, 3.1 million in Wales and 1.8 million in Northern Ireland. The population of the UK was estimated to be 63.7 million in mid-2012, up from the estimated 63.3 million in mid-2011. This represents an increase of 419,900 (0.7%) in the year to June 30, 2012.

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